Walt Mossberg

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Needing Flash in the Fall

Q:

I am going back to school in the fall and I contacted the school to see which laptop or tablet I should be using. They replied I would need the Adobe Flash Player to run the lectures. While I love Apple, I understand the newest Apple laptops and the iPad do not support Flash. Is this correct? If so, what should I buy?

A:

There’s a lot of confusion about this, so here’s the story. Apple’s Mac laptops and desktops do indeed run the Adobe Flash Player, and thus Flash videos and websites, just like Windows PCs. While they no longer ship with the Flash software pre-installed, you can quickly and easily download and install it free of charge. Once you do, Flash videos and websites will work on your Mac.

By contrast, the iPad won’t accept the Flash Player in its built-in browser and thus cannot run Flash videos or websites. There are some third-party browsers for Apple’s tablet, such as Skyfire and Puffin, that do run Flash on Web pages, albeit clumsily at times. The latter are available in the iPad app store. If you want a tablet that runs Flash natively, you could buy one of the newer Android models, or the HP TouchPad, but be aware that some Flash videos and websites don’t run properly on the current generation of Flash-enabled tablets.

Q:

I am thinking about upgrading from an old cellphone to something where I could send/receive email, make calls in the U.S. and overseas, plus run some apps of interest such as financial, investment and GPS. Seems like an iPhone or an Android would work. Getting the lowest monthly rate is important, as usage is very low. What do you advise?

A:

First, I agree that an iPhone or Android phone would work. But, if you expect to make a lot of calls from outside the U.S., you’d be better off with a phone from AT&T or T-Mobile, although such overseas calls are very costly.

If you go with AT&T, you can get either an iPhone or an Android phone. T-Mobile doesn’t offer the iPhone. As for costs, there are so many rate plans out there, that I strongly suggest you visit each carrier’s website or store and carefully compare plans that you feel will fit your needs. A few things are worth noting. AT&T charges extra for heavier data usage. T-Mobile doesn’t, but it slows down your data speeds when you use over 2 gigabytes a month. And you shouldn’t buy a cellphone that doesn’t work well where you live, work and frequently travel, so choose a cellphone from a carrier that does.

Q:

Please advise how I can transfer my calendar and contacts to my iPad in the most efficient manner possible.

A:

There are two ways to do this. You can use iTunes and the included cable to sync your contacts and calendar from your PC or Mac. Second, you can maintain your calendar and contacts in a Web service like Google or MobileMe or Microsoft Exchange, and sync them to the iPad automatically when you are connected to the Internet.

Email mossberg@wsj.com.


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